Saturday, January 28, 2017

Phew!  This flu season has been the worst!  Since the New Year we have been taking turns being flat-on-our-back sick in this house.  I think I can officially say that we've all made it through the flu and so the worst must be behind us.  It sure makes me grateful for our overall health and the incredible ability of our bodies to heal.  And also good friends who patiently rearrange plans, send essential oils, suggest alleviating concoctions and bring elderberry syrup.  What a blessing to have them in my life!

It sure got me itching to finish some projects, too.  Why is it that I become most motivated when I can't possibly work on a project? =)  As soon as the dizziness left me and I felt safe to drive again, we hit the craft store, thrift store, and recycling center to restock and get to work on some projects.  I don't really have an instructible this week, but I just wanted to let you know that I haven't dropped off the face of the earth.

First, I've managed to keep up on our rabbits and continue to learn about them daily.  I've discovered we have a flighty one in the bunch and have already received many a nip from little Bobbin.  Trying to handle him more so that he becomes more used to us.  I found some wire mesh at the recycling center and have been attempting to secure our little porch for them to stretch their legs in a little.  Now all I need is a gate!

The Oregon Poultry Swap has chosen one of my paintings for their 2017 special edition print for this year!  I'm very honored and am looking forward to my tee shirt with the design on it!  I decided to sign up as a vendor for their Winter Swap here in Eugene and so a lot of my time has been put toward getting ready for that.  I found this awesome, weathered plank at the recycling center.  Gwen and I sawed it down into reasonable pieces and I've been painting barn art on them.  I've already received a great response and several pre-orders!

Then some more painting, crocheting, baking dipping tallow tapers, and practicing face painting for the meet.  It sounds like so much fun!  There's going to be a kids area, seed swap, scavenger hunt, raffle, demonstrations, decoration competitions...   If you happen to be in the area February 11th you should really look it up!


Friday, January 6, 2017

New Year. New (Fluffy) Adventures

Happy 2017 everyone!  How was your Christmas and New Years?  We had a lovely trip up to Washington to visit family, but unfortunately my camera's cable was left behind, so that story will have to wait for now!

This past week we've been getting everything in place for our latest adventure, though: RABBITS!!!  This project has been in the works for quite some time after I finally worked up the guts to ask our landlord for permission to keep more critters (I had been feeling like just the moose of a dog and two cats were really pushing it) but he was totally fine with the idea!  Rabbits are such quiet, easy keepers that take up minimal space and make minimal mess, I think they're going to be a great addition here.
Setting up the new homes

After permission came a LOT of learning.  I'd never really considered rabbits in the past, but we've been looking to raise more of our own food as we can and rabbit it great for this.  I know some will have a hard time with the idea of this, and honestly I do, too.  But I think that's okay and even good.  It's good to understand where our food comes from, to not take it for granted, appreciate the work that goes into caring for meat animals and know that our creatures were raised and harvested without suffering.  This breed (Satin) is ideal for both meat and furs while still being rather docile.  These particular rabbits have been raised among kids, dogs, cats, chickens and even horses so they seem to be very calm overall!
Curiously contemplating his new cute critters!

So, what do rabbits actually NEED?  It is possible to go really crazy, and there are many differing opinions out there. Obviously, I'm no expert now that I'm officially one day in to rabbitry, but I found some of these articles to be helpful and hope this condensed version of my research might assist others getting started.

Handling/communication:
An Uplifting Experience
Rabbit Talk

Grooming: 
Grooming a Rabbit
Rabbit Grooming Basics

Feeding/treating:
Your Rabbit's Diet
Rabbit Approved Plant Guide
Raising Rabbits on the Homestead

Housing:
Raising Rabbits (good overall care info)
Rabbit Hutch/Cage Size Guide
Raising Animals as Gardening Allies
Homestead Rabbits
Rabbit Tractor in Action


Also of great help was the lady we bought these from.  Angela at White Ranch and her kids show these Satin breed rabbits in 4-H and two of the four we bought have won various awards.  She taught us desirable qualities that generally are associated with better health (large back feet, symmetry, healthy teeth, soft over and undercoat) as well as how to hold them (they have STRONG back legs and sharp claws), what to feed them, how to house them, grooming, etc.  They suggest picking up but the scruff only if necessary and only briefly, then support the body and keep the rabbit close to your body.  Despite being so strong, rabbits are fairly fragile and can actually break their spine struggling against being held the wrong way or falling down.
They set up their camping chairs and just sat quietly "letting the rabbits get used to them" at 25 degrees and snow!

I also learned a lot about rabbit housing from her.  I started out buying a little tractor (like a little hutch on wheels that can be used like a rabbit lawn mower).  Now that I have a better concept of how much space a rabbit needs, I really couldn't put more than two rabbits in there.  And since we're not having these rabbits fixed so they can breed later on, that means only male or female at a time.  But then I found out that, while rabbits enjoy seeing other rabbits around them, they can actually be quite vicious when sharing space.  To the point that they will fight and cause open wounds.  So it's really best to keep them together, but separated.  Enter this craigslist score of cages on pallet stands made by my wonderful husband and father!  So we'll still use the tractor as a place for each rabbit to get out and stretch and explore, but it won't work well as a sole housing environment.  


So we finally brought home our four Satins as two breeding pairs, meaning we will keep them for their lifespan and they will be the ones that will likely become more like pets.  I'm pretty sure we're settled on names.  So without further ado, allow me to introduce...

Geode: proven male



Gem: proven female


Bobbin: young male


Calico: young female


Better photos to come, but I just couldn't wait to share with you our latest endeavor!  Have you ever cared for rabbits before?  Any advice you'd like to pass on?  I'd appreciate every word right now! =)






Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wild in the Rain: Gifts to GO!


There seems to be much more thought going into Christmas gifts lately and I love seeing it!  Do we really need or even want more toys?  I will always cherish my son's gift list the first Christmas he was really able to talk.  When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said, "I just want everyone to have a home."  Oh, my Mama heart!  Me too, Sweetheart!
Wait, are those musk ox, Canadian geese, and an emu holding up traffic?

And while there are things we do to give back to those in need in our community, and as much as I wish I could grant that request, we do want to get something special for our children.  I've really enjoyed this rhyme I hear popping up; "Something they want, something they need, something they wear, something they read."  What a practical and pleasantly limiting guide!  The one thing I might add, or blend into the "something they want" is somewhere to go, but I suppose that really throws off the rhythm of it!  

Last Christmas, my brother and his wife got our whole family tickets to Wildlife Safari, a game park about an hour south of us.  And it was SO much fun!  I felt like it was a gift, a mini-vacation, and a home school field trip all blended together!  The kids are all ready asking to go back again!  This was such a welcome gift!

Despite the rain, we saw such a variety of creatures from all over the world.  There was even a petting farm where the kids were able to pet and feed.  On the weekends, a train will take you through the park and it looked like there are always special animal encounters you can sign up for.  The little ones asked so many questions and I feel like we all learned a lot.  I highly recommend a visit if you get the opportunity!  


The joy of this trip and the memories made caused me to start brainstorming other potential non-stuff gifts we might consider in the future.  What would you add?

1. Zoo
2. Music lessons
3. Sports fees
4. Swimming lessons
5. Horseback ride
6. County/State park pass
7. Library card (for out-of-town dwellers)
8. Theme park
9. Art lessons
10. Museum admission

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cause for Thanks

They just keep getting bigger and more amazing!

Good news!  I have officially been able to renew my nursing license through Alaska!  During this sabbatical of being a full-time stay-at-home-mom, I found it was impossible to keep my Oregon license while not working full time.  I still don't know how I'm going to get it transferred when (if?) I do decide to go back to nursing, but I'll just cross one bridge at a time, I suppose!  So that time consuming hurdle has been overcome.  Also, our computer had been out of commission for quite some time (close to a year?) and my electronically genius of a brother was able to get it fixed so I can stop fighting a losing battle trying to blog from my lap top!  All that to say, I'm back to blogging!  Hooray!  I missed this!
Happy Thanksgiving from the adult table! =)
So, how was your Thanksgiving?  Ours was slightly more low key this year with just our immediate family, my parents and great uncle, and another family from our church.  With no other cousins in the family, I really appreciate having other kids around!  Isn't it nice when they can keep each other distracted and engaged!  Everything was pretty simple, lovely, and delicious thanks to many helpful hands.
Love seeing four generations (though not linear) learning together!

Right after the meal, I set the turkey carcass and leftover veggies to simmer in the slow cooker.  Two batches of bone broth later, it was time to clean up.  A couple scraps were scavenged for the dog, but as my daughter helped me pour the broth into the jars we uncovered the brittle bones.  

She was so fascinated and we had such a great time snapping them open to see the hollow interior of bird bones, the marrow where the red blood cells are made and the vertebrae.  There was even some spinal cord left so we brought her brother over to show how the cord went from the brain, through the spine and out to the rest of the body.  It ended up being a great science lesson!  You just never know where a lesson will pop up! =)


Happy discovering this week!


Colored utensil holders from most of those present at our feast!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Announcement: Art Portfolio Reveal!

    With one week to go before pitching my tent at the McKenzie Highland Games, I wanted to announce that I've opened my art portfolio as a separate page of this blog (look at the selection options to the right to find the link or click HERE!)  This is going to be a work in progress for a while, so please bear with me and let me know if you notice any glitches of have any suggestions!  I'll keep you posted on how the Games go!  Especially if you follow me on Instagram (@growwildmychild) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Apple Recipe Roundup: Updated!

It's beginning to feel a lot like Autumn!  I can't believe it's been a year since I really took off with this blog!  For those of you who have come along on the ride, you have my thanks! It sure has been a year of fun adventures and growth.

About this time last year, I was overwhelmed with the amount of apples our tree dropped and went a little apple crazy!  Well, it didn't really end and I've decided to update my apple round up post from last year to add in some of the many more I've tried since posting!  Here's where I'll take off:

(We have an apple tree in our back yard!) Free fruit!  Fruit was so precious in Alaska, we are kind of going crazy with all the fruit now.  I can’t stand to see any of it go to waste!  It is an old, untended tree that we have here, so it has been necessary to cut out the big bruises and insects.  Still, I have been making as many apple dishes as I can!  I wanted to share an apple round-up with you of some of the recipes I have been using this autumn.

1.       Dried apple chips: may be done in the oven or a dehydrator.  Or even strung on a thread and hung on the hearth if you want to do it the truly rustic way!  I followed this simply wonderful recipe and my huge batch disappeared in a matter of days.

2. Mountain Apple Dumplings.  The official recipe for this is up, but for my unedited (well-loved) version, zoom in on my recipe card below. 

3.       Apple Cider Vinegar:  well, except for the cider bit.  You just use the toss-away cores and skins instead!  This may not save time or much money, but how cool is it that you don’t have to throw away your cores or skins!  The homemade vinegar recipe can be found here in her creative post.  *Update: I'm not going to lie.  I've been struggling with this one and fruit flies.  I've tried boiling them first.  Anyone have any suggestions?
 
4.       Apple Crisp: This crisp has been my go-to this season and we’ve already made three batches!  Perfect combo of warm tart apples, and cinnamon, oat gooiness!

5.       Irish Apple Cake/Bread: Straight from the Emerald Isle, this lady’s concoction is sure to make you feel like you’re sitting at the comfort of a warm hearth on a soft morning.

6. Apple Cardamom Jam:  I made this for Thanksgiving last year and it was such a hit!  I still can't get a enough of it!  It's so unique, I've been giving it as gifts, too.  Although not necessary, I've added crab apples to this as well.

7. Smoothies: I suppose if you blended just apples, you'd end up with apple cider?  We tend to add in other fruits or berries, but the apples add such a great flavor and consistency.

8. Popsicles: You can use remnants of the smoothies to pour into popsicle molds for the hot, dog days of summer we seem to be experiencing now. 

9. Fruit Leather:  Again, you could use the same concoction as your smoothies, or just plain blended apple.  Pour on to dehydrator sheets and in about 4-6 hours you'll have your own fruit leather!  Love this for picnics!

10. Pectin: I'm always curious about how things USED to be done.  You know, before we could just run to the store and grab whatever we need.  Pectin is one that had stumped me for some time.  I know people have been making jellies and jams for some time, so HOW?  Anyway, I was pretty excited to figure this one out, and now, with only the help of the apple tree, I can make it for free! 
11. Shrunken Apple Heads: We made these for Halloween and they turned out great!  Although ours were just decoration, I've heard of others floating theirs in punch bowls!

12. Strawberry Hard Cider: This is my husband's latest endeavor and we're still awaiting the results, but isn't it lovely?
 

I have yet to find the perfect apple pie recipe, but I feel like that should be included in the list somewhere, too!  Anyone have any amazing favorites?
 And here's one last apple bonus: how to keep your apples from browning!

Oh, man, this is making my mouth water!  You can have your pumpkin spice!  I’ll take apple as my autumn flavor any day!  What will you be doing with your apples this year?  I hope you’ll get a chance to try some of these delectable delights during this time of changing seasons! 

 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Free Fish Windsock Printable


The leaves are turning colors! The temperatures are finally headed toward a comfortable range! Could it be that we're returning to autumn!? SO excited!





As promised, I wanted to share with you this free printable for our fish windsocks. The breeze has been just right for these lately! After the little ones saw a few of these in shop windows, they started begging us to get one. But we decided to do one better and make them ourselves! They loved making their fish exactly how they wanted them and even deciding where they wanted all the fins on the sides. All through the day they report on how quickly their fish are “swimming” through the winds!


As for method, simply color in the print out as desired and tape strips of streamer (crepe) paper along the bottom of the uncolored side.  Roll so short ends are just overlapped and tape down.  With a scissors or hole puncher, make two small holes just above each the eyes though which to tie off a length (mine was about 18") of yarn or string.  Then you may choose to tape on extra fins on the sides as my little ones did. 



To open the template to print, click on the photo below:




As I've had so much interest in my other Sunday School printables (see Babel and Daniel), I just couldn't help but think that this could make such a great project for a class, sometime. Although I haven't used it yet, I feel like there are so many stories you could tie in with fish: Jonah, the feeding of the 5,000, fishers of men, creation, the symbol of the early church. We're starting up our regular classes after the summer break, and now I really want to find a way to tie these in! =)